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Showing posts from September, 2015

Project Ramblings: A Comedy in Five Acts

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Game Design Thoughts Ahoy!

Okay, so A Tragedy in Five Acts. It's actually done a lot better than I thought it had any right to, and I'm glad about that. Word of mouth has spread enough that people are starting to run it at cons who aren't me, and it's turning out to be something of an evergreen game -- it sells consistently if not hugely, and that makes me happy. It's never going to be a sales leader, but it has something of a following, and that makes me happy.

That said, it's occurred to me of late that the endgame in Tragedy needs some reworking. It works great until you get to Act V, and then things stumble a bit in resolution -- it's not impossible to work it out, by any means, but the system that drives the game so well up until that point just stops mattering, and that feels rather abrupt to me. It's a thing I've been thinking about addressing in a second edition of the game, and the more I think about it, the more I want to press forward wi…

Dissertation Chat: Latour

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This recurring feature of my blog will be talking about various sources I'm using in my dissertation, both in the hopes of getting my brain around them using the "can you explain this to your friend/relative/spouse/grandmother" method of understanding concepts, as well as seeing what other people think of such things and fostering some discussion.

Our first topic of discussion today is Bruno Latour and his undying fights to bring science studies into the light of respectability -- and, you know, to reorient our relationships with the world as we know it at the same time. Just a little thing. No big deal.

So, if you don't know who Latour is, what you really need to know is that his primary theory, using the terminology that's been largely settled on (although he's still not entirely happy with it) is a thing called "actor-network theory," or ANT for short. The jist of it is that we tend to look at the world (and particularly science) in terms of subj…

Diversity in Gaming, or not being the yardstick of the universe.

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Man, that is just not an exciting title. But I'm currently writing a mentoring guide about diversity in games, and so that's where my mind is at. The pic to the right was drawn by the amazing Timm Henson, and it's one of the Agents available for play in our free downloadable Chill character pack. His name is Bradley.

So, diversity means a lot of things. Basically it means "have a bit of everything involved, more or less equally spread around." That's harder than it sounds like when you're used to everything looking one way and you start changing it up. It can be difficult to think outside the box, and so most games and game companies historically haven't worried about it. There are some stand-out exceptions, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't so long ago we were having talks about passive cheesecake and chainmail bikinis being a righteous standard for portrayals of women in games (and in some places on the internet, people still do).

For a few…

The past returns

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So, I have this project I've been working on, and it's now crunch time. It's designed to be a Halloween costume / cute outfit for a certain little girl, and I only see her mom once a month, and I need to finish the dang thing like now because she'll be here this weekend. The big thing that has been holding me up, though, is that I've decided I need a flower on it. The pattern doesn't call for a flower, mind you. No, I'm the one who picked a flower to go on the hat, and I cannot convince myself to go forward without it.

Of course, as any knitter can tell you, it's not that you can't knit flowers -- you can -- but it's a lot of work and there's very little point when crochet does it so much better (knitting - straight lines, crochet = circles). You can do things in both crafts to offset these basic tendencies, but you're crafting uphill a bit in either case.

 So I decided, finally, to bite the bullet and pick up a crochet hook and start a…

I have made a pair of socks that is too small for everyone I know

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I really like these socks. I made them for my stepdaughter, because I wanted to use up this fantastic striping sock yarn I had and because I didn't have enough of it to make socks for me. So I made the first sock and it fit her like a dream, but then 2/3 of the way through the second sock, I ran out of yarn.

Given the tightness of finances during the summer, I put the socks on the back burner until I could afford to get more yarn. Finally, this past week, I did. I finished up the sock and gave it to her to try on... and she'd grown out of it. :(

The socks fit Cael, but they are made of wool and are fuzzy, and he doesn't care for them despite appreciating the striped awesomeness. So now I have this awesome pair of handmade kid-size wool socks that don't fit anyone I know at all. I am a sad knitter, if only for the fact that I could only wish that they would fit me, but there is no way on this earth that they will go on my foot. *sad trombone*

I will wash them and block…

Status!

Okay, so I'm going to start doing periodic status posts to kind of keep myself honest about my workload and what I'm focused on at the moment. I'm working on balancing freelance gigs + coursework + school work + teaching + dissertation reading. I'm staying home today and not doing a whole lot out of the house (maybe going to pick up the ceramics I did with my stepdaughter), so hopefully I can get things done.

Here's my current statuses across the categories:

Freelance: 

Redlines for the one of the Dark Eras for the Onyx Path book; finished one era, still one to go. Deadline of Monday. Started in on the next chapter for Emerald City, the Interface Zero 2.0 book I'm working on. Got 500 words done yesterday -- aiming for at least that much today. Coursework: Read another two chapters on Cicero. Finish translating Ad Familiares 7.1.Study vocabulary.Teaching: Grade 11 1st drafts with global and local feedback for Monday. Dissertation Reading:  Finish Pandora's Hope (…

Letting Perfect be the Enemy of "Oh Just Do Something Already."

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If you know me at all, it doesn't seem like this would be a problem I would have. And yet, I can assure you, it is something I struggle with on a regular basis. In looking around at the Internets of late, it seems to be something that others struggle with too, so I thought I'd write about it.

So there's a thing that happens where nothing is quite right. We can envision something as it should be and anything short of that seems like a pale comparison, practically a joke. When we could have the awesome of the perfect thing, why should we be asked to settle for anything less? Why shouldn't we push ourselves to achieve the thing that is obviously so much better?

This is a thing for me in my writing. It's a thing for me in my knitting. It's a thing for me in a lot of ways. It's an outlook I sort of struggle with when it comes to politics and compromise and solutions to issues at work. I have problems being invested in something and yet being flexible about it a…

Non solum canes sed etiam feles vivens promisce

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This probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone, but actually doing Latin translation, even the relatively easy stuff, is kind of kicking my butt. On the one hand, I actually seem to be able to do it, more or less, which is a vast improvement over this time last year. I lost a lot of ground over the summer that I'm slowly getting back, but it's a process that for now involves looking up nearly every freaking word and making sure that yes, that's the word I think it is in the form I think it might be, which means it means X.

Luckily, I actually like doing Latin translation, though I'll like it much better as I improve at it. It's code breaking, basically, and it's got the satisfaction of doing puzzles combined with "oh THAT's what that says!" What's funny is that I sort of approach my dissertation the same way, with my focus on objects and meanings and how we code or decode things. Apparently those letter substitution puzzles I loved so…

Things that happened this weekend:

I went to DragonCon and saw a ton of cool costumes.

I walked miles and miles, as I stayed in an off-site hotel.

I learned that Atlanta has hills downtown.

I saw 3-4 whale sharks -- I didn't even know that was a thing, but they're amazing.

I watched giant manta rays loop-the-loop.

I saw river otters sleeping in a pile.

I learned that the flight between CLE and ATL is surprisingly short.

I had some of the best biscuits I've had in a year.

I watched bits of 300 twice accidentally.

I learned how to use my phone as a personal internet connection.

I ran a game of Clue: A Tragedy in Five Acts that was called "Murder in the Caribbean."

I came home and now I'm going to go fall over. G'night.

Game and voices (semi-random)

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So designing games.

One of the weird things I've discovered over the past year is that I actually have ideas about games. I have the game I made for Game Chef (called Vovetas), I have another all-ages game I'm still working out, I have Daedalus, and I have A Comedy in Five Acts still on my plate, in addition to some far flung ideas about the steampunk mad scientist game, and a couple other RPGs and other things that I'm doing freelance (and, you know, my dissertation and syllabi and whatnot but lets not talk about that right now).

I have discovered during this period of time that yes, I really am a game designer. Not just a mechanics inventor or writer or editor, but a designer, designing games from scratch. I have opinions about what works and what doesn't, and although I don't get things right all the time, I get them right often enough in games that I feel as though this is not going to be something I give up lightly. I think it's especially important given t…

RPGaDay2015 -- The End

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Okay, so I fell behind again. Here's the last lap, though, all in one fell swoop for all you patient readers who are, no doubt, endlessly interested in all my RPG stuff. :)

Day 28: Favorite Game You No Longer Play

Oh man. So... Shadowrun. Shadowrun was my go-to favorite for a lot of years. It was the first game I ever really GMd. I like how the fantasy races let us deal with some of the uglier aspects of human nature head on. I like how the magic gave it just enough fantasy without getting rid of all familiarity (and I'm a sucker for urban fantasy). I liked the cyberpunk aspects of it. I loved the people it introduced me to, many of whom are still dear friends to this day. It was my entryway to the industry, first in editing through my work for FASA Corp., and then through writing as I started picking up bits and pieces in the line. I haven't touched it since I parted freelance ways with Catalyst.

Really, the reasons for this boil down to two things. First, I really don'…